Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
The final playoff round of the UEFA Europa League is set to get underway on Thursday, and up to a dozen Americans could be in action as a result.
Carlos Bocanegra is one of the players who may see playing time as Rangers is hoping to field him in the first leg of its series against NK Maribor. Having captured Bocanegra's signature on Wednesday, Rangers manager Ally McCoist is hoping to use his one wild card addition to the Europe League gameday roster on Bocanegra. That means it is likely that the U.S. men's national team captain and Maurice Edu will be the only two Americans available for selection, while recent signee Alejandro Bedoya will be forced to sit this one out.
Bocanegra isn't the only player scheduled to make a debut with a new club. Brad Friedel should play in his first competitive match for Tottenham Hotspur as it takes on Heart of Midlothian. Tottenham is the favorite in the series, but that shouldn't stop Friedel from starting.
Here's who the Americans Abroad play in Thursday's Europa League matches:
Jermaine Jones and Schalke 04 play HJK Helsinki.
Jozy Altidore and AZ Alkmaar play Aalesund.
Sacha Kljestan and RSC Anderlecht play Bursaspor.
Michael Parkhurst and FC Nordsjaelland play Oguchi Onyewu and Sporting Lisbon.
Clint Dempsey and Fulham play Dnipro.
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 play Sevilla FC.
Jonathan Spector and Birmingham City play CD Nacional de Madeira.
Brad Friedel and Tottenham Hotspur play Heart of Midlothian.
Maurice Edu, Alejandro Bedoya and Carlos Bocanegra play NK Maribor.
Dominic Cervi and Celtic play FC Sion Sitten.
What do you think of these matches? Which team with an American do you think has the best chance to win the tournament?
Share your thoughts below.